Roper Review: Justin Loya
As a kid, Justin Loya had big dreams. Just not the NFR dreams most rodeo kids have. From the age of five, Justin craved baseball. […]
Ashley Lankford is a 17-year-old cowgirl from Collinsville, Okla. She has grown up astride a horse, and the rodeo arena has been the center of her world in the summer for nearly 10 years. Ashley competes in breakaway roping, team roping as a heeler, pole bending, and barrel racing. Her parents, Bill and Renee Lankford, used to work in rodeo. Bill worked behind the chutes and Renee was a timer, but they eased back from that when they began hauling Ashley to her rodeos.
Ashley is inspired by rodeo legend Jim Shoulders when it comes to her involvement in the sport. “My dad knew him personally,” explained Ashley. “The way that he changed rodeo, his sportsmanship, and all of the great things he did inspire me.” While she plans to attend college and study in the medical field, Ashley hopes that rodeo will continue to be a part of her life after high school.
The Lankford family lives outside of town, with several dogs and horses making their home complete. Ashley has a younger sister, Gabrielle, who is seven. The sisters enjoy riding together, but Gabrielle hasn’t decided if she wants to rodeo yet. She does, however, enjoy playing piano and cheerleading. Among the Lankford’s horses are Goose, Ashley’s breakaway and team roping horse, and Warrior, who she competes on in poles and barrels. Ashley finished both of her horses in the events that she competes in. The Lankfords bought Goose from PRCA cowboy Josh Welch, who started the horse in tie-down and team roping. Ashley often practices roping the dummy in the arena in her back pasture, but several times a week she also ropes calves at a practice pen with her team roping partner.
A junior at Collinsville High School, Ashley’s favorite subjects are math and science. She loves the hands-on learning that comes with experiments. Ashley is also involved in track and field this spring, with shot-put and discus as her field events. Another part of Ashley’s education is her participation in FFA. She is taking some time off from projects this year, but in 2013 she competed in the speech contest. This involved writing, memorizing, and delivering a six to eight minute speech in front of a panel of judges. “My topic was on animal cruelty in rodeo,” said Ashley. “I talked about how it wasn’t cruel and explained what the events were intended for originally.”
When she is not with her horses, Ashley enjoys spending time with her family and friends. She is especially supportive of her sister Gabrielle, who is participating in several speech contests and even went to districts. As for her future goals, Ashley says, “I’d mainly like to improve in everything in every aspect of rodeo.” She is also striving to earn several college scholarships, and to compete in college rodeo when the time comes. Ashley wants to study in the medical field, and she is researching what type of doctor she would like to be.
Ashley’s main goal for this coming summer is to compete in state finals. In 2012 , her freshman year, she qualified for state finals in the NHSRA, but was unable to compete due to a neck injury. She did, however, qualify for the NJRA finals rodeo in 2013 in breakaway and won a finalist buckle. As she continues to haul to rodeos and pursue the sport she loves best, Ashley concluded, “I’d like to thank my whole family – my mom and dad and my little sister, and the friends that have supported me. And God, for leading the way.”
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